'Comfortably Numb - an inside story of Pink Floyd' - also titled as 'Pigs Might Fly' in few countries - is a book which documents the history of one of the most popular bands, the Pink Floyd. After listening to the music of Pink Floyd and delving deeper into the lyrics of their songs, I got interested in the history of the band and chose to read this book. There is one more book on Pink Floyd by one of the band members, Nick Mason but I selected this book over that as I thought it would give a neutral point of view. Of course, if one wants to get a more personal account of events related to Pink Floyd, one should read the book by Mason.

'Comfortably Numb' by Mark Blake
In the initial chapters of the book, the author describes the bringing up of the band members belonging to Cambridge - Syd Barrett, Roger Waters and David Gilmour. That upbringing, especially that of Roger Waters, who lost his father in WW2, led to the worldview that they had later on. Many lyrics support this theory of the author. The start of The Pink Floyd Sound was also interesting. In London, it was the time of so-called summer of love. Many bands and musicians started their careers in that year. The United Kingdom was witnessing a counter-culture movement led by youths. This movement along with new found fascination with LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs led to the emergence of the underground music scene where small and largely unknown bands would perform to an audience already high on drugs. One of these underground scenes - UFO - was where Pink Floyd used to perform and there they got popular.

The author also goes into the so-called Syd Barrett myth. Any fan of the Pink Floyd is interested in what happened to Syd Barrett and internet is full of many speculations. Early in his career, Syd Barrett was showing the signs of drug abuse and was frequently lost in his own senses. His behavior became more erratic as he continued the use of LSD. Another theory that the author presented in the book after talking to many associates of Syd Barrett is that he did not like the attention and commercialization. When Pink Floyd's first album 'Piper At The Gates Of The Dawn' got popular, there were many stage performances scheduled and although other members enjoyed that popularity as they wanted to become rock-stars, Syd became disenchanted. Along with that came the pressure to produce another hit single. All this led to Syd falling out with other band members. Pink Floyd had recently inducted David Gilmour and for a brief period, they were a five-member band. Later Syd Barrett released two albums but they could not climb up the charts. Syd became isolated in his house and started pursuing his interest in painting again, but he remained an attraction for the media and Pink Floyd fans.

When the album 'The Dark Side Of The Moon' was released in 1973, it became a big hit and brought major commercial success to the Pink Floyd. These were the years dominated by Roger Waters as he was the creative force behind the band after the departure of Syd Barrett. It was a concept album based on the human emotions - dark and true emotions. Roger Waters changed the course of Pink Floyd from a psychedelic band to an alternative rock band, from a band emphasizing alien and strange sounds in their songs to a band with overt political tones in their songs. They produced three more commercially successful concept albums - 'Animals', 'Wish You Were Here' and 'The Wall.' In between these albums, the author says, came the idea behind 'The Wall', in part inspired by the behavior of the audience. The author also talks about the tax problems Pink Floyd faced after their money was siphoned off in a Ponzi scheme.

During these years increasing assertiveness of Waters was making other band members uncomfortable. In fact, Waters and Wright did not get along very well right from the initial years when on a tour with Waters,  Wright became a punching bag for Waters and his friend. During the late '80s, there was a bitter dispute between Waters and Gilmour over the use of name 'Pink Floyd.' Things settled only when Waters moved out of the Pink Floyd. After 1980, three band members - Waters, Wright, and Gilmour - released their solo albums. These albums did not become very popular. A reason behind this was the stress given by band members on the anonymity in their initial years and focusing on the elaborate light show on the stage. In 2005, Pink Floyd united for the last time for a 'Live 8' event and this book starts from this event. Those who have seen the bitter fallout between band members would not have expected this get-together.

The author of this book, Mark Blake, is a journalist and stories narrated in this book are based on his personal interaction with the band members. Many stories are also taken from what appeared in other tabloids. Blake gave a significant coverage to Pink Floyd's Cambridge circle who were friends of the band members and were later involved in designing the covers of albums, conceptualizing the sound show and managing the band's logistics and the stage. A small but significant part of the book is gossipy in nature talking about the personal lives of band members and their interaction with each other. Due coverage has been given to what critics had to say about the Pink Floyd albums after they were released.

कभी मुख्यधारा में शामिल होने की क़वायद बन जानी है
हो न हो मेरे अस्तित्व की यह समस्या अब बहुत पुरानी है।

एहसास की बातों के अलावा भी कुछ है क्या ये दुनिया
क्या मेरे दीद की दुनिया बस एक काल्पनिक कहानी है।

उम्र भर जिये बस मौत के बाद की दुनिया की तैयारी में
सुनी हुई बातों का यकीन करना वाइज़ की नादानी है।

उग्र धाराओं के इस दौर में मध्यमार्गी को तवज्ज़ो कहाँ
लहू छूकर उसने मेरा कहा कि ये न आग है न पानी है।

चोट खाकर आई थी दरिया राह के हर एक पत्थर से
कुछ बड़े मक़सद से चली थी तभी अब तक रवानी है।

वो चल चुका था घर से खुद को खोज निकालने को
ढूँढ़ता है हर शख़्स में ख़ुद को यही उसकी परेशानी है।

इत्तेफ़ाक़न उसको जीने का सहारा मिल भी जाये अगर
वो क्या छोड़ देगा उसको जो माज़ी की पशेमानी है।

माज़ी - past; पशेमानी - repent.

सच्चिदानन्द हीरानन्द वात्स्यायन ‘अज्ञेय’ द्वारा रचित ‘आँगन के पार द्वार’'आँगन के पार द्वार' सच्चिदानन्द हीरानन्द वात्स्यायन ‘अज्ञेय’ का लिखा हुआ एक काव्य-संग्रह है जो कि 1961 में प्रकाशित हुआ था। इस संग्रह में अज्ञेय जी की 1959 से 1961 तक की लिखी हुई कविताओं का संकलन है। वस्तुतः जिन कविताओं की रचना 'अरी ओ करुणामयी प्रभामय' के बाद हुई थी उनको इस पुस्तक में स्थान मिला है। इस पुस्तक के लिए अज्ञेय जी को 1964 में साहित्य अकादमी पुरस्कार से सम्मानित किया गया था। यह काव्य-संग्रह तीन भागों में विभाजित है - अन्तःसलिला, चक्रान्तशिला और असाध्य वीणा।

प्रथम भाग 'अन्तःसलिला' में अज्ञेय जी ने अधिकांशतः प्रकृति के उपमानों को लेकर मानवीय चिंतन का एक रूप पेश किया है । झील, सागर, साँझ आदि से शुरू होकर कविता किसी व्याकुलता या यादों की उलझन में समाप्त होती है। इनमें अज्ञेय का प्रकृति प्रेम भी झलकता है और मानव स्वाभाव से गहरा परिचय भी। 'भीतर जागा दाता', 'बना दे चितेरे' और 'अन्तःसलिला' इसी प्रकार की कवितायेँ हैं। 'पास और दूर' और 'पहचान' में अज्ञेय जी किसी पुरानी याद के बारे में कहते हैं। प्राकृतिक और कृत्रिम संसारों का मिलन हमेशा पप्रसन्नतमूलक नहीं होता है, यह 'सूनी-सी साँझ एक' में दिखता है -
"पर उस सलोनी के पीछे-पीछे
घुस आयी बिजली की बत्तियाँ
बेहया धड़-धड़ गाड़ियों की:
मानुषों की खड़ी-खड़ी बोलियाँ।
वह रुकी तो नहीं, आयी तो आ गयी,
पर साथ-साथ मुरझा गयी।
उस की पहले ही मद्धिम अरुणाली पर
घुटन की एक स्याही-सी छा गयी।"

दूसरे भाग 'चक्रान्तशिला' में कविताओं का शीर्षक नहीं है बस क्रमांक है। कुल मिलकर 27 कवितायेँ इस भाग में हैं। इस भाग में एकांत, मौन और चिंतन-प्रधान कवितायेँ सम्मिलित की गई हैं। यूँ तो प्रकृति के उपमानों का जमकर प्रयोग इस भाग में भी हुआ है लेकिन यह कहना उचित होगा कि मानव की भावनाओं ने प्राथमिकता पायी है। एकांत चिंतन के जो परिणाम होते हैं वो अज्ञेय जी की इन कविताओं में दिखते हैं और कहीं न कहीं इस चिंतन में खो जाने का निमंत्रण भी है। सागर तट पर बैठकर कवि ने लिखा -
"तब संध्या की तीखी किरण एक
मुझे विद्ध करती एक सायक-सी
उसी सन्धि-रेखा से बांध
अचानक डूब गयी।
फिर धीरे-धीरे
रात घेरती आयी, फ़ैल गयी!
फिर अन्धकार में,
मौन हो गयी धरा,
मुखर हो सागर गाने लगा गान।"

अंतिम भाग ‘असाध्य वीणा’ एक लम्बी कविता है, जिसमें केसकम्बली द्वारा वीणा बजाते समय सारे दरबार के मंत्रमुग्ध हो सुनने का वर्णन है। इस कविता में एक कलाकार के विकास में प्रकृति का कितना योगदान हो सकता है, वह अज्ञेय जी ने कहीं दूर प्रकृति की गोद में बसे हुये गाँव के वर्णन के माध्यम से दिखाया है। केसकम्बली तो वैसे भी एक ऐतिहासिक पात्र हैं। कहीं न कहीं इस कविता के माध्यम से, अज्ञेय जी ने अपनी कविता के असर को भी सामने रखा है। उनका यह मानना है कि यही कविता अलग अलग पाठक अपने अपने ढंग से उसके अलग अर्थ निकाल सकते हैं। जो जिस परिस्थिति में है उसे कविता का अर्थ उसी परिप्रेक्ष्य में समझ आयेगा। कविता के अंत में अज्ञेय जी कहते हैं कि ‘यों मेरी वीणा भी शांत हुई’, जैसे कि श्रोताओं ने वीणा का संगीत अज्ञेय जी की कविता को मानकर सुना ।

'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' is a book concerned with the history and philosophy of science. It was a book which created widespread discussion among scientific - and nonscientific - communities regarding the practice of science. Since it was first published in 1962, this book has triggered an ongoing assessment of the way science works. As with any theory unsettling the concurrent beliefs, this book was also criticized for its content by some scientists and philosophers; and in the second edition in 1970, Thomas S. Kuhn, the author of the book, had to write a postscript to discuss these concerns.

'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' by Thomas S. Kuhn
In this book, Kuhn does not believe in the widespread belief that science proceeds by continuous accumulation of data and theories. Instead, Kuhn believes that science proceeds by long periods of normal science separated by revolutionary periods where two theories exist simultaneously competing with each other. Any of these two theories can get acceptance in the wider science community. Many times newer theory fails the close scrutiny. At other times, the newer theories solve many new problems and get wide acceptance. This is termed as a paradigm shift, a phrase which is very common now. These shifts do not happen that easily which is necessary for the practice of normal science.

Kuhn also describes the practice of normal science. After a paradigm has emerged, scientists who have given so much time learning and applying that paradigm, normally stick to that for the whole of their life. In that case, they do puzzle-solving i.e. applying the paradigm to the problems which seem solvable by that paradigm. Sometimes few problems emerge which could not be solved by the paradigm. Then the paradigm might be tweaked to accommodate the solution of that problem. Sometimes few puzzles emerge which could not be solved by the existing paradigm. These are called anomalies which necessitate the emergence of a new paradigm. The new paradigm should be able to solve new puzzles as well as explain the data which was earlier explained by the older paradigm.

The examples that Kuhn use in this book to prove his point are varied and taken from multiple disciplines of science. He invokes Dalton's law of combination in fixed proportion to show that the mixture of alcohol and water could not be considered a compound. Similarly, the discovery of oxygen was not agreed upon by chemists readily. He argues that the Ptolemaic science was so different from the Copernican model that it could not be a case of accumulation of knowledge. Newton's dynamics was very much different from Einstein's theory but Newton's laws of motion and theory of gravity were able to explain many natural phenomena. It was derived as a special case of theory of relativity. This is also a practice where an older theory is proved to be a special case of a newer theory.

Kuhn also questions the teaching of science. In the textbooks of science, this paradigmatic evolution is never taught. In fact, the current paradigm is taught in such a way that older theories seem to give way to the current one. He uses Darwin's theory of evolution to drive home this point. Kuhn says that according to Darwin's theory higher organisms evolved from the lower ones going down to the single-celled organisms. So if we travel across time we will see these multiple levels of evolution. The science can be taught in much the same way - different paradigms can be the different levels of scientific evolution. Kuhn says that no doubt the greatest paradigm shifts are normally brought by young scientists who are not immersed deep in a paradigm or yet to embrace a paradigm to a point of no return.

Kuhn's theory was criticized by many because of its alleged dramatization of scientific revolutions and radical approach taken towards the revolutions. According to the critics, the paradigm shifts also occur during the Kuhn's period of normal science. Kuhn says that paradigms are incommensurable i.e. the old paradigm cannot be proven by the rules of the old one and vice versa. While answering criticism of incommensurability, Kuhn says that the same term can have a different meaning in different paradigms i.e. it all boils down to the language. Kuhn says that it is difficult to have a language which can be used to compare the two paradigms impartially.

सूरज की किरणों ने जैसे खींच दिए हों वीणा के तार नभ में
उजले बादलों ने किया उस पर आघात
हवायें कांप रहीं हैं
दिशायें सुर लहरियाँ लेकर दौड़ रही हैं
पंछी कर रहे हैं कलरव गान
और झनझना उठे हैं तार।

पूरब में खो रहा है पुराना भविष्य
पश्चिम में उदय हो रहा है नया इतिहास
पौ फूटती है
समय घुल रहा है आकाश में
जरा कुछ यादगार पलों की आकृतियाँ
आकाश से ढूँढ़कर लाओ तो सही।

जो व्याप्त है, अनन्त है, वो ब्रह्म है
जो स्थिर है, शून्य है, वो आत्म है
'तत् त्वम् असि'*
शून्य ही अनन्त है
अनन्त ही शून्य है
और सूर्योदय के बाद ये लाल किरणें
निकल पड़ी हैं शून्य से अनन्त की यात्रा पर
आत्म से संचालित और ब्रह्म में घुल जाने के लिये।

समय घुल रहा है समय में
समय चक्रीय है
जिसमें समय देखता है स्वयं को
मैं दे रहा हूँ ढील मन के पंखों को
टूट रही हैं वर्जनायें
सुदूर क्षितिज में आशा का उत्सव चला है
मैं दे रहा हूँ तिलांजलि बेमानी शब्दों को
एक नया शून्य, एक नया अनन्त परिभाषित हो रहा है
मैं महसूस कर रहा हूँ।

* 'तत् त्वम् असि' - (That art thouछान्दोग्योपनिषद् 6.8.7|